Brachial plexus birth injury

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Brachial plexus birth injury is an injury to the brachial plexus nerves leading from the spinal cord to the arm. This affects how the arm moves and feels things. Learn about the causes and possible treatments for a brachial plexus birth injury.

Key points

  • The brachial plexus is a group of five nerves that leave the spinal cord between the bones in the neck. These nerves allow the arm to move and feel things.
  • In babies, the brachial plexus can be damaged during a difficult childbirth.
  • Nerves have some ability to heal and repair on their own. This depends on how severely damaged they are.
  • Many children regain good use of their affected arm and are able to do most of the activities that they want. There may still be some muscle weakness.
  • Babies with a brachial plexus injury that have difficulty moving or feeling in their arm should be referred to a multidisciplinary team specializing in the management of brachial plexus injuries by 1 month of age.
  • If movement in the arm or hand is weak and function is limited, therapy (physical and/or occupational therapy) is advised and surgery may be recommended.
Last updated: December 17th 2020